06/03/2008, AYC at the dock
Three months and counting........
This is a really funny feeling. We started planning to do this years ago and at the start I wasn't really confident that the Admiral was truly on side with the idea. I had a nagging suspicion that she was going along with another of my crazy schemes and in fact she even said to me one time that if my health failed or I changed my mind she wouldn't be making the trip alone.
But now?! We are three months away and she had the house half packed and salted away in a long term storage facility and the property listed with a real estate agent who telles us that our region of the city is hot for sales these days.
05/26/2008, AYC on A Dock
Getting closer and running out of time. Over the weekend, Barb and I off loaded the liferaft to take to IMP for servicing and inspection - no small task for the two of us. For a four man raft it is quite heavy! Also, I am reaching the point where I will have to start training with the crew to get them familiar with the baot and its rigging. I figure that the month of June, one evening a week and one full day on a weekend should be good for a start, especially since both Art and Marc have already sailed with me before. I still haven't decided whether I will add the fourth crew-person to the roster. I guess that part of me is still hoping that I'll be able to persuade Barb to join us.
We have begun the refresher training for Sea Survival with a visit to HMCS Kootenay the Damage Control Scholl for the Canadian Navy, then on Friday we will go to the Seamanship School for a refresher on liferaft drills. One thing that this has particualrly given me was a whole new appreciation for what the saliors in the Navy do in their jobs. As an Army guy I had always sneered a bit at the "swabbies". They always seemed to be overweight, out of shape, undisciplined etc., particularly when compared to a soldier. However, one day in a simulation with an inclined floor, smoked filled, water and steam pouring in with zero visibility has given me a whole new respect for mys nautical bretheren. even if they never have to do it for real, the training alone is mind boggling!
More progress! I have obtained support from Clearpoint Weather for the race participants. They will be making their package available to the racers free of charge for the month of July for those who would like to participate. The Race Committee also agreed that we could do this.
What is Clearpoint Weather? Well, if you have access to the internet from your boat this package will allow you to download an extremely sophisticated and yet very user friendly weather, environment and sea state condition report. A history of these reports and some rudimentary knowledge of weather will allow you to make some very timely personal forecasts for the weather. Since the report is based on your specific position as indicated by your GPS or as you enter into the package if you don't have your computer hooked up to the GPS, this makes it a remarkably personalized forecast.
Pretty neat, and the yachts will get to use it for free during the month of July. All they'll have to do is download the software from the Clearpoint website.
A fair amount has happened since I started this post.
First, I have been invited to be on the race committee for RHSP. Kinda exciting since I had never done anything like this before. I feel like a bit of a fraud since I am not really a racer, but rather am a cruiser that uses this sort of event for getting to where the party is.
Of course, Barb and I have decided to retire and this race is just a month before we leave work for good. The choice was made for us so it's sort of bittersweet time in my life but I think that there will be enough going on with the boat for me to get over any nostalgia pretty quickly.
The Chain of Command has agreed to sponsor the 4 boats in the race so I have started something here which I hope should continue long after I have retired and left the area.
And I have managed to coordinate some new stuff for the race and for the race participants:
1. The Race Committee was kind enough to agree that 2+ months of training either at a military training facility of a Commercial Seamanship school will be at the very least the equivalent of the one day Survival at Sea Seminar that race participants are required to take; and
2. I have arranged with some commercial providers to get the race participants a downloadable weather service free of charge. There is still some discussion required to clear this at the race committee level, but if they can't oblige, I am comfortable that it will be for a good reason.
One of the crew may be a member of the local media who is looking for a berth to come along and make TV reports during the trip and then file stories once she is on St-Pierre.
I am planning on spending the month of May, except the long weekend from 16-18, working on installing and fixing up NELLEKE. I am very fortunate that pretty much all of the crew who have committed in coming to the race ae also the sort that actually enjoy helping with the maintenance. This has not been my universal experience in the past so you can imagine my pleased surprise with these folks. There are even two who originally said that they'd like to come, but then couldn't get away from work. Even they are still participating in the maintenance! My wife is estatic! If they weren't there I would be bugging her to come around to help me.
I plan to start the sail training on the month of June. That should give us at least three weeks of one or two evening sails per week and then one 24 hour sail on a weekend to get everyone used to the watch system that I want to use.
The 15th of July, in the middle of the race is our wedding aniversary. I'm particularly lucky to have a partner who is also interested in sailing so Barb is quite happy to fly over and join me in St-Pierre to have a celebration a couple of days late. It's our 30th so the nature of oour gift has been selected for me.
NELLEKE has entered all of the Route Halifax St-Pierre (RHSP) races to date, less the first, and I'm kicking myself about that. For the un-initiated RHSP is a bi-annual run from the Halifax waterfront to the French Islands of St-Pierre et Miquelon off the south coast of Newfoundland, at straight line distance of about 380 nm. We won the PHRF Crusising Division in 2006.
I have been fortunate enough to have my employer give me moral and practical support to participate and I am hoping that they will do the same this year. In the past they have sponsored one boat, NELLEKE. This year we have four boats that are interested in participating and we have even created a seperate sub-category in which for us to race as well as the PHRF Division.
It's all a matter of preparation. I am fortunate in that I have three crew coming that I have sailed with in the past. For one of them, Dave, it will be the third time that he has crewed for me in an ocean race.
Since NELLEKE has been in these competitions before, a lot of the high cost items, which usually frighten off first timers, have already been purchased. Short of paying the entry fee, we should be good to go.
I will be updating this blog entry with developments as we prepare NELLEKE and her crew for the race. There will be training and preliminary buoy racing as well as social events to involve the families.
05/25/2008, AYC on A Dock
We got at least one nice day on a weekend and one of my crew was able to come down and give me a hand with the mast steps. We are now past the spreaders and 2-3 from the top of the mizzen and just about at the spreaders on the main. I miscalculated the number of steps that I would require so I'll have to make another trip back to the money pit for 6 more. Fortunately they are not the most expensive thing that I have had to buy for the boat. It's a job that I'll be damn glad when it's done and one that I would heartily recommend be done when the mast is unshipped and horizontal if you have any choice in the matter.
Additionally I have almost finished installing the new SSB and boat computer. It's a bit cramped in the space available but once it's done it'll be very functional and look good to boot. The new SSB will be able to use most of the wiring from the old one, I'll just have to check the specific wire coding.
Getting closer and closer to the point that I feel that we can reward ourselves with a short cruise, even one just out in the harbour to McNab's Island. The steps are definately the most challenging job but there are enough smaller jobs to keep me busy most evenings and most of them are below decks so they can be tackled, rain or shine.
One evening a week during the month of June we will have to get the crew out for shakedown sails to get them ready for RHSP. We are down to 3 of us and all have had some experience on the boat but not to any great extent so any additional experience with NELLEKE's quirks would be a good thing.
Several days have passed and we have spent a long weekend on the boat and another several evenings working on various projects. The most significant life altering change was the decision and the action to go through the cabin and get rid of much of the superfluous extra nonsense that we had aboard. Most of which was mine, I might add. Up to now I had been the one spending most of the time aboard and as a result the drawers and cupboards were mostly full of my stuff. With the impending departure obviously this had to change and change it did. After all, exactly how many T-shirts does a guy really need to have aboard anyway. I also scrubbed a lot of the diving gear that we had aboard as unnecessary and generally go rid of a carload of stuff that we jointly decided that wasn't really necessary.
Besides that we managed to get most of the holding tank plumbing finished and most of the new electronics installed, just not wired up yet.
Big jobs left? Oooooh yes! The rest of the mast steps; the new battery system and fixing the generator to name just a few. Add to that the new halyard on both the main and mizzen and adding the staysail.
By the way, I figured a way that I wouldn't have to put two new holes in the cabin roof to hold the foot of the staysail - I'll use the toe-rail. Smart. eh?
We're going to take a break on Friday night. The club is having its opening regatta which is usually a very good "do"! Firday night will be Lobster Dinner and music and dancing which we haven't had any of since last year. Then the Admiral and I will spend the first night aboard and get seriously "at it" on Saturday. If the weather is half decent we should be able to break the back of the "to do" list. If it's not we'll just give it a serious sprain. Then on Saturday night there is a rib-steak dinner and dance. I do gfeel like a bit of a fraud. All the partying is supposed to be for the racing boats and their crews and families and we won't be competing NELLEKE. However, when I see so many octogenarians lining up for their cheap lobster and even cheaper steak I can console my self with the thought that at least I have a boat.
I managed to hook up the hot water expansion tank to replace the one that broke ofver the winter. Interesting the difference between the one that has been on there for 25 years and the new one. The old one was globe shaped while the newer one is cylindrical but they both operate on the same principle of pumping water against a flexible diaphram until a certain pressure is reached whereupon the pump shuts off. If they had put the presure tank in the line before the split to hot and cold there would only be need of one, but for some reason the person that designed the pressure water system on NELLEKE decided that she needed to have two seperate presure systems. Odd!
I have also discovered the advantage of actually reading the manual for the watermaker. Earlier in this post I mentioned that I would have to enlarge the area that I planned to install the pump mechanism for the watermaker as it was exactly 1/2" too short. Turns out that once I actually read the manual, in particular the chapter on installation, if I actually install the pump and drive in the correct orientation (ie side by side instead of one on top of the other) there will be plenty of room. Funny old rum thing, eh?
Anyway, still lots to do. Sure glad I enjoy that part of boating. Imagine what it would be like if I didn't!
Well maybe I was a bit too optomistic about the percentage that I have completed. I have just made a new list and a more realistic estimate would be more like 20%. Still - !
Looks like the next couple of days will be good weather and we are coming up on a long weekend with 2 of the three days fine weather so perhaps I'll be able to break the back of the job list.
All I am hoping is that there won't be too many additional jobs creeping up to nip at me.
Lots to do and never enough time or the right weather to do it in......
This past weekend, thanks mostly to getting some much needed help from my RHSP crew, I have made some real progress on some essential retirement cruise work on the boat.
1. I have been joisted up the mizzen more times than I care to remember and have all but three steps put up. And I have lowered the cheek blocks for the lazy jacks to below the spreaders. That mast is now getting quite busy and I don't think that I'll be adding too much more.
2. I have hooked up the plumbing to the holding tank and have been able to put the steps to the forward cabin back in. On a side note, I was installing an air vent for the holding tank and discovered what I think is a previous air vent coming from the unaccessable side of the tank and leading off to the hull. I haven't found where it actually goes through the hull but I suspect that it merges with one of the other through hull fittings. If it does it either doesn't have an air filter attached or the one that is there is inaccessibel and hasn't ever been changed. I seem to recall the previous owner talking about not liking a holding tank aboard the boat because of the smell and that would make sense. If what I suspect is true, I will be T-ing the new air line into the old one and splicing the air filter into the old line. I will be putting it into a spot where I'll be able to get at it to change it periodically.
3. I have begun to install the new electronics - at least the part that is in the cabin. The Admiral has offered to make a flag bag for the flags that I put into a flag locker so I have removed that. And I am making a hinged front to the electronics so I can open it and get at the juicy bits in the back.
4. On the down side, I discovered that the expansion chamber for the electric water heater broke over the winter. Sigh! Something else to replace.
So far I figure that I am 30% done - drum roll - high fives - loud huzzahs all round!
This weekend is the 24th of May weekend (not really 24 May but close enough that we have a govenment holiday and a 3 day weekend) so I will be doing a fair amount of work on the boat. If the weather is clear I should be able to get it almost all done.